Prediction: New Devices will Surface from Microsoft for Windows 8 Blue summer 2013

 

This is entirely based on thought, guesswork, what’s really needed, what’s possible, and wishful thinking at worst.  It is not based on any communication or disclosure from Microsoft (directly or indirectly). 

Microsoft – note the short branding style.

Update: The Build 2013 conference has been announced for June 26th, 27th & 28th.  This is around the time that the Surface devices were announced last year.  A big negative comment around Build 2011 was that there wasn’t a lot of developer information prior to Build 2011.  Leaked builds aside, an early conference this year could help appease developers ahead of the Windows Blue release.  However, a criticism for the Surface announcement in 2012 was that there were no pre-order date given.  A much earlier conference this year may not provide for any new device pre-order announcements if we are looking at an autumn timeframe for new device availability, unless Microsoft has been very busy at work and such devices are coming sooner that we think – an end-of-August date (6 months after the Surface Pro) would tick all the right boxes for back-to-school and stay out of the way of the next Xbox release.

Update:  Speculation is moving towards reality – Paul Thurrott of Winsupersite claims that Microsoft will ship an 8" device in 2013.  So read 8" instead of 7" below, providing almost 200DPI if the resolution is 1366×768. 

Update June 3 2013: Microsoft is having a crazy sell-off of Surface RT and Surface Pro at the Microsoft TechEd North America conference.  This signals new devices around the corner!

Queue wavy dream sequence to summer announcements…

Surface Mini – $299

Windows 8 is now available on the the 7” Surface Mini (for $300), which includes Office 2014 RT store apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint & OneNote (with no business license), limited or NO desktop, and is compatible with the new Surface Dock (Pro) (see below).  It features a low-power I3 equivalent, 2GB RAM and 32GB SSD.  Battery time is 8+ hours.

Update June 3 2013: Dell is selling Windows RT devices for $299.  An Intel Baytrail-based Surface Mini later this year, seems very likely now.

Surface Mini Pro – $399

Also in the mini series is the 7” Surface Mini Pro (for $400), which includes Windows Pro, Office 2014 RT Pro (which add a store version of Outlook with an Office business license), a desktop with app compat, domain join, management group policy with system center/InTune, and docks fantastically using the Surface Dock (Pro) with no DPI issues.  It features a low-power I5 equivalent, not ARM, 4GB RAM and 64GB SSD.  Battery time is 6+ hours. There are WAN model options for $50 more.

Mini users can upgrade their OS to Windows Pro for $150 (but of course don’t get the physical RAM or SSD upgrade).

Both devices come with 2xUSB 3.0, 1xDP (plus DP-HDMI adapter), pen digitizer, WiFi, Bluetooth 4, GPS, Compass, Accelerometer, Gyro, NFC.  They are compatible with existing Surface power supplies and DisplayPort accessories, but not keyboards.  Buyers are encouraged to buy other Microsoft Bluetooth keyboards. 

Surface Dock – $49

There’s also the Surface Stand Charger for $50 which is a wireless charger for the Mini Series, with magnetic power-in connector and a bluetooth receiver with 1 DisplayPort out connector.

Surface Dock Pro – $99

The Surface Dock Pro ($100) features a 3-port USB 3.0 hub, the previously mythical DisplayPort MST hub with 3 ports and 1 DP-HDMI adapter, 1000-baseT Ethernet, and magnetic power-in connector.  The Mini series connects to the dock in portrait or landscape using one of the two strategically placed USB 3.0 ports also providing wireless charging. 

Surface Xbox Mini – $299

The Surface Xbox Mini is a 7” game/companion device at $300 – essentially a Surface Mini with no Office (though available as apps to buy in the store for $100) but increased GPU power. The battery lasts for 4+ hours of game play.

Windows RT –> Windows Phone

The Surface with Windows RT (aka Surface RT) is discontinued. Windows on ARM is now solely the foundation for new WP8 Blue devices which are becoming more like Windows RT, and are compatible with the Surface Dock (Pro) for desktop docking, video display and charging!!! Your desktop is now in your pocket allowing you to dock and use Windows RT on external monitors.

Windows now successfully covers tablets that become your desktop with Surface Mini Pro and phones that become your desktop with Windows Phone.

Surface Screen Adapter – $49

Turn any HDMI or VGA display into a single wireless screen for your Windows 8 tablet or phone (!) device with Bluetooth 3.0+HS or higher.

Update June 3 2013: Microsoft has announced Miracast support in Windows 8.1.  This means future Windows 8.1 devices will make use of these kind of screen adapters, which are in fact already available!

Surface Pro 2 – $799

Windows 8 is also available on the Surface Pro 2 (which now starts $799 with 8GB RAM), featuring the lower power Intel chipset with battery life lasting 6+ hours, and is compatible with the Surface Dock Pro, but not for wireless charging.  It adds in all missing sensors.

Update June 3 2013: Intel Haswell chips are out of the gate.  I expect we’ll see the announcement of a Surface device using Haswell at Build on June 26th – perhaps even an available device.

Surface Lap Cover – $149

The Lap Cover is also available for both the Surface Pro & the Surface Pro 2 which is similar to the Type Cover, but providing a locking angle for the screen without the stand and includes a battery which (when combined with the system battery) provides 8+ hours of use for the Pro, and 10+ hours with the Pro 2.

 

For $600 CxO and IWs are snapping up Surface Mini Pros with WAN, a Dock and a keyboard.  Some are saving $200 off the device with a new mobile provider 3-year plan. 

The $300 Surface Mini and Surface Xbox Mini become the fastest selling tablets ever during Dec 2013, with families buying multiple units from back to school to xmas. 

Then, there’s the ‘Xbox 720’…

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Test-drive HTML5 Development for Windows Phone & Desktop

It seems to be increasing said these days, that software solutions are moving away from the desktop and to the cloud and mobile space.  There’s more to be said about this which I’ll blog about soon, but let’s just agree that this leads to at one possible conclusion – we need to be able to develop sufficiently rich client-based solutions that run on both desktops and a wide variety of mobile devices that all connect to the cloud.  If we add the requirement that we want to reach as many users and devices as possible on the client-side, with a single ‘base’ of code (and we aren’t too fussy about immersive UI, richness of experience, deep access to local resources and to varying extents, and very high development productivity/maintainability), then we are often lead to the door of HTML.  With ‘HTML5’, we can even be fussy about a few things too.

Microsoft is making its platforms capable of running those HTML5 solutions.  Currently this means IE9 on the Windows desktop and now also IE9 on Windows Phone 7.5 (now RTM’d and due on phones this fall).  We’ll likely see more native platform support for HTML5 solutions in Windows 8 with IE10.  Given the right use of HTML of course, a solution for Windows desktop and phone, should also work on a large range of HTML5-compatible desktop browsers and mobile devices.

Here’s the same hardware-accelerated HTML5 content running on IE9 and Windows Phone Mango.

sidebyside

Getting started with HTML5 development on Windows

So what do you need?  On the desktop you can get IE9 and start ‘coding’ in something as simple as Notepad(!).  Use the free included F12 developer tools to explore and even debug your solution.  For something a little more productive, you can go for the free Visual Studio Web Developer 2010 Express SP1 largely for the HTML editor support and test web-server, plus you’ll want the community-based Web Standards Update for Microsoft Visual Studio SP1 for IntelliSense support.  For testing on Windows Phone, go to http://create.msdn.com to get the latest Windows Phone Tools/SDK (currently Windows Phone SDK 7.1 Beta 2) to be able to run the emulator on your machine which includes the mobile browser.  If you are not connecting to any web-based data services, or you are connecting to existing services, you may not need any other tools, but you’ll probably want the jQuery library to be more productive with your JavaScript.  Want some great slides on jQuery (from a Microsoft guy)?  Download Joe Marini’s Mix 2011 jQuery bootcamp slide deck.

Doing rich HTML5 stuff

The easiest way to learn about new HTML5 is to see some in action and check behind the scenes.  To demonstrate the great HTML5 and hardware-accelerated capabilities of IE9 on the Windows desktop and Windows Phone, Microsoft created two ‘testdrive’ sites.  They include some great and diverse examples as well as links to useful resources.

http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive for IE9 on the desktop

ie9td

 

http://ie.microsoft.com/testdrive/mobile (which works on the phone and the desktop)

ie9wptd

Detecting desktop vs. mobile browsers

One of the key issues to tackle when creating an HTML5 application that will work on the desktop and on mobile, is getting the right layout experience for the screen size, ideally using the same markup.  CSS3 Media Queries are a great solution here.  The test site includes an example of this (see entry in screenshot above).  In addition I’d suggest watching this video from Mix 2011 as well as this blog entry from the Windows Phone team (by the same Joe Marini that did the jQuery bootcamp at Mix).

Dealing with down-level browsers/capabilities

Of course a good solution should deal gracefully with down-level browsers and missing HTML5 capabilities, especially given that the specification is still in flux.  On many existing websites, this is still handled on the server side by looking at the User Agent string provided by the browser application, and delivering browser-specific content.  In the new client-side world, it’s often better to detect the browser capabilities in the client code and enact progressive enhancements to the user experience based on what specific features the browser has.  If the browser cannot do some of the new HTML5 goodness, you may want to consider a ‘Polyfill’.  To help detect browser capabilities, there’s a library called Modernizr, and a number of Polyfills available to handle missing capabilities that Modernizr can detect.

I hope this has given you an idea of how you can start to test drive HTML5 experiences and development on the Windows desktop, upcoming Windows Phone 7.5/Mango phones and beyond on to other ‘HTML5-ready’ browses and devices.

What’s Coming for WP7 developers in Mango

Blogged from the Microsoft Mix 11 Day 2 Keynote in Las Vegas

On day 2 of Microsoft’s Mix 11 conference, they explain how they will (in May) be “Delivering happiness” to Windows Phone developers. New Windows Phone end-user features will be announced at a later date.

Opportunity

Ecosystem

· Nokia will be bringing mobile billing expertise

Countries

· 16 more languages

· Developers in 38 (up from 30) countries can register to publish applications

· Phone users in 35 (up from 16) countries will be able to purchase apps

Discoverability

· New Program list – has the ‘long list’ initial letter jump buttons, a search button (inc. access to marketplace search in the results)

· Marketplace – Separates Apps, music, & Podcasts (US this fall)) and shows more details in list with publisher/price/rating

· Marketplace App page has a pivot: details, reviews, screenshots, related

· One-click install for free apps

· Auto-nav to apps list after install

· Search Extras – A Bing Search result can have extras deep linking into an app

Capability

Browser

· Browser uses same IE9 code-base for HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3

· Address bar at the bottom

· Background audio for HTML5 in browser (use phone controls too)

· H.264 video in video tag in full screen with controls

Phone integration

· Sockets

· SQL CE Database with ORM and Linq to SQL

· More launchers & choosers (inc. deep link to directions)

· Better access to contacts and calendar

· Pin to start of application deep links

· Raw camera access

· Access to compass

· Access to gyro (new optional hardware coming this year)

· Motion Sensor API (for ease of using compass and gyro)

· Ringtone API

Multi-tasking:

· Fast app switching – apps are suspending, and only terminated if necessary

· Background audio from apps (leveraging the standard phone media controls)

· Background downloads

· Setup alarms

· Live tile updating including animations

· “Live agents” occasionally run by a battery friendly scheduler (with user control of which ones can run this way) – gets events and can get location

Dev Experience:

New emulator features for Accelerometer (with 3D model of position) and location (with Bing maps input)

Performance improvement (for list)

· Scrolling and input

· Image decode

· Garbage collector (no pausing)

· Memory usage

Built on Silverlight 4 including RichTextBox

Local Database using SQL CE with ORM and LINQ to SQL

Can compose UI with Silverlight and XNA

Profiler (still free)